I’ve always believed that there’s something to be said for staunch traditionalism, especially when it comes to black metal. I often tire of the progressive tendencies the genre has picked up in recent years, especially here in the US; sometimes I just want to scream “cut the shit and get to the ear-raping already!” Fortunately, Sacramento, CA’s Killgasm exists, and their second album A Stab in the Heart of Christ is the ultra-corrosive antidote to the overly pretentious, meandering mess that much of the current crop of USBM has degenerated into.
Killgasm adheres closely to black metal’s core values; this is ugly, hateful, violent shit with bad intentions and a mean streak a mile long. Innovation can go fuck itself with a flaming skewer; A Stab in the Heart of Christ is all about creating the most vile, bulldozing black metal possible, nothing more, nothing less. Some might scoff at the notion of a band with such an oldschool mindset in 2014, but this is actually Killgasm’s greatest asset; this band does not give a fuck about anything other than pulverizing you, and it makes for one pleasurably punishing listen.
The first thing one notices when listening to A Stab in the Heart of Christ is that it sounds killer. This isn’t some lo-fi basement black metal recording; the band sounds dark and heavy as hell, with audible bass and about ten tons of low-end. The individual performances coalesce into a whole that’s far more brutal than what most of us are accustomed to from an underground USBM band, and Killgasm’s burly sonics do much to drive home the power of tracks such as “Planet Earth Mass Grave” “High on Church Fumes” and “Fisting Your Faith.”
A Stab in the Heart of Christ isn’t one hundred percent all-out assault though; while it’s true that the album rarely lets up, there are some memorable melodies woven into each song’s framework. There is a catchiness at work here that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a band like Killgasm and being able to remember the pummeling makes all the difference after your skull has been pummeled to dust. The trio also makes effective use of samples throughout the album, which is rapidly becoming a lost art in metal (extra points for the Vince McMahon clip that appears towards the middle of the slow-burning “Miserable Existence”) and adds to the bleak yet crushing atmosphere.
Overall, Killgasm have one vicious bastard of a sophomore album on their hands that sees them improving in all respects. I look forward to experiencing the chaos of their live show again soon, but in the meantime A Stab in the Heart of Christ will more than suffice whenever I need a fix of filthy and furious CA black metal. The album is out now via Moribund, so drop what you’re doing and go huff some church fumes.